Who can participate?
Adults, 18 and over, who have a partner who:
- Is a veteran diagnosed with or suspected of having PTSD
- Reports a high level of relationship dissatisfaction with their partner or family members
- Has at least one child, ages 4 to 12 years old, living with them
All parties (partner, veteran and child) must be willing to participate in the research study.
What will happen in the study?
If you, your partner and your child (or children) choose to participate, and your family qualifies, you will be in this research study for about 27 weeks.
You and your partner will be "randomized" (by chance, like flipping a coin) into one of the study groups described below.
- First Group: You and your partner will receive 15 weekly sessions of Couple’s-Based Conjoint Therapy (CBCT), a research-supported therapy designed to reduce your partner’s PTSD symptoms as well as improve your relationship with your partner.
- Second Group: You and your partner will receive the same CBCT therapy over 15 sessions, but you will also learn skills to improve your relationship with your children.
All therapy sessions will last for 60 to 75 minutes.
We also ask that any of your children living with you, between ages 4 to 12, come to the clinic for 3 visits to complete a behavior rating scale. Those 3 visits will occur prior to CBCT, at the end of 15 weeks, and 3 months after CBCT has ended. Although your children will not directly participate in therapy, it is important to gather their perceptions of how effective the therapy has been in improving family relationships.
Study staff will obtain data from rating scales and clinician ratings during different points of the study (prior to CBCT, midway through the CBCT, immediately at the end of 15 weeks, and 3 months after CBCT has ended).
In addition, we would like to videotape the CBCT sessions. If you or your partner decides you do not want the sessions videotaped, provisions will be made to audiotape the therapy sessions.
Participants will be given a consent form that thoroughly explains the details of the study. A member of the study staff will review the consent/assent form with you and will be sure that all of your questions are answered.
What are the good things that can happen from this research?
If both partners agree to take part in this research study, there could be a direct medical benefit in that the therapy will both reduce PTSD symptoms and improve veteran/partner relationships.
The investigators hope the information learned from this research study will benefit other veterans with PTSD who report high partner dissatisfaction and low parenting satisfaction.
What are the bad things that can happen from this research?
During the initial stages of treatment, your partner may possibly report increased emotional distress while recalling and describing the traumatic event. This distress is usually temporary and is expected. This distress may go away over the course of treatment.
Discussing your partner’s symptoms may bring up other issues that negatively impact your family. These issues are also expected and will be addressed by skills that you will learn in treatment.
Another risk is the high levels of depression that are often associated with PTSD. To reduce potential problems due to depression, we will monitor and refer you immediately to another resource should imminent suicidal behaviors occur. This same process will also hold for you and/or your children.
All possible risks and discomforts will be discussed with possible participants, parents, legal representatives or guardians interested in learning more about this study.